Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6th, 1475 in the village of Caprese, Italy. Michelangelo is considered one of the most talented and influential artists, not only in the Renaissance time but also in modern day. Michelangelo grew up in a fairly poor house hold. In the beggining it was already obvious that Miachelangelo was not a huge fan of schooling. He showed his main intrests in art. When Michelangelo's father observed and came to the conclustion that his son might one day be an artist, he was not very pleased with the idea. At this time, being an artist as an occupation was thought very lowly of. His father finally came around and started to except the idea. Especially when he saw all the opportunities that were making themselves apparent for his son in the artistic fields. At 13 years old in 1488, Michelangelo was taken in by Domencio Ghirlandaio as a apprentice. He never completed his apprenticeship because in 1489 when he was 14 he carved a statue that was just so amazing. This statue attracted the attention of Lorenzo de' Medici (also called Lorenzo the Magnificent) the ruler of Florence. He was so amazed by Michelangelo's sculpture that he invited him to come live in his palace and study with his own son (Giovanni) and his own nephew (Gulio). For 2 years (1490-1492) Michealangelo studied with Lorenzo and his son and nephew. He studied sculpture with Bertoldo di Giovanni as a teacher. In his two years in this school his most famous peices of art that he created were the, Madonna of the Stairs (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491–1492.)

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Madonna of the Stairs

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Battle of the Centaurs

In 1492 Lorenzo de Medici died of a sudden unexpected death. A few years later (in 1494) after the Medici was pushed out of power, Michelangelo was 19 and he left Florence in search of new patrons and work. He made a breif stop in the neighboring city of Bologna. There he mad several small statues for the church of San Domenico. Then he moved onto Rome. His first project in Rome, was for a wealthy banker. He carved a life-size statue of the Ancient Roman God of wine Bacchus. This statue was valued as it was clear that Michelangelo took time into portraying this God so you could really get the sense of how drunk he was. He was considered to have done an amazing job on this by using the posture, the facial expressions, and the overall apperance of the God to display the drunkness of the character.
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Michelangelo's first major project was the Pietà meaning "pity" in Itallian. This sculpture took 2 years for him to complete, he started when he was 22 and worked on it from 1498-1500. This sculpture portrays the virgin Mary, holding the crucified christ limp in her arms. Her sad expression is very clear with her depressed downward glance at the crucified christ. Mary is actually in a complex pose. She has her arm wrapped around Jesus, and her fingers are shown through his arm pit, as she is supporting his upperbody, this would be a difficult figure to make out of marble. Also if you notice the clothing that Mary is wearing, the drappery is really quite amazing. It is even more amazing to realize that he created all those very realistic wrinkles and folds, with just a block of marble and a chisle. The Pietà presented Michelangelo with a great deal of fame while he was only 24.
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In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence. Almost immediately the cathedral govenor preseted him with the job of completing a sculture that another sculptor had started 40 years ago but then abandoned. This sculture had been started on a 16 ft peice of marble. Out of this marble Michelangelo decided to carve a huge statue of the Old Testament hero David. It took 3 years for him to finish sculpting David which he finished in 1504. Michelangelo depicts David as a strong and handsome youthful man, I suppose there was a bit of idolization here, becuase this was the statue that was the anticipaiton of David going into battle so i am sure he did not look exacally like this. This statue remains as one of the best-known sculptures western art.

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In 1505 the Pope Julius the II had asked Michelangelo to make him a tomb which was to be places in St. Peter's Basilica which was new and under construction. Michelangelo quickly accepted the challenge. This tomb was expected to have more than 40 figures on it. This used a lot of marble and due to lack of money, the pope ordered him to put aside the tomb project, as he was in favor of using the money to pay for the painting of the Sistine Chapel.

Soon after Michelangelo recieved the tomb project, he was handed his biggest task yet. In April 1508 Michelangleo was called to Rome by Pope Julius II again. His task was to paint 12 figures of the apostales and some decorations on the Sistine Chapel celing. This would be quite the challenge for not only was it a very large task which would have to have almost a perfect outcome. But Michelangelo had taken his intrest to sculpture therefore he spent most of his time pursuing that. Now he would have to master the art of fresco and there was no room for error. As Michelangelo was making these wonderful frescos Julius II began to take a liking to Michelangelo and adored his art. He then let himself be swayed by Michelangelo's ambitious and enthusiastic plans. So Michelangelo was given even more to paint and by October 31st 1512, he had painted over 300 figures in the Sistine Chaple. In May of 1508 he stated the make the prepatory designs for the celing. In the fall of 1508 when it was time for the final designs, Michelangelo called to Giulano Bugiardin, Aristole da Sangallo, his old friend Fracesco Granacci, and many laborers for assistance. But Michelangleo was not satisfied with his assistants work, so he fired all of them, removed all of what they had painted, and began the whole thing again in Janurary of 1509. Though Michelangelo had started this project with great enthusiasm he was now looking at it as pure torture. Michelangelo stated the effect it had on him with these words, "After four tortured years, more than 400 over life-sized figures, I felt as old and as weary as Jeremiah. I was only 37, yet friends did not recognize the old man I had become." And a man who worked with him even said, "As a result of having painted for so long a time, keeping his eyes fixed on the ceiling, he saw little when he looked down; if he had to read a letter or some other small thing, he was obliged to hold it above his head." Between 1508-1512 Michelangelo painted some of the finest pictorial images of all time. On the vault of the papal chapel, he created a complicated system of decoration that displayed 9 scenes from the Book of Genesis, starting with God Seperating Light from Darkness, the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Temptation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Flood.

God Seperating Light from Darkness
God Seperating Light from Darkness
The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Eve
The Creation of Eve
The Temptation and The Fall of Adam and Eve
The Temptation and The Fall of Adam and Eve


The Flood
The Flood


After finishing the Sistine Chapel MIchelangelo returned to the tomb he had started making for Julius II. When he resumed work on the tomb again, he redesigned it on a much lower scale. Even so MIchelangelo still created some of his finests works of art on this tomb including the Moses, which is the center peice of the monument. The muscular patriarch sits in a shallow alcove proud and dignified while holding the 10 commandment stone tablets with his right arm. He aimlessly looks off into the distance as if he is communicating with God. The project of Juliu's tomb also required some architechtual work. Michelangelo's activity in the architectual field had not seriously began till 1519, when he designed the plans for the facade of the San Lorenzo church in Florence. In the 1520's he also designed the Laurentian Library and its elaborate entrance hall.

Pope Julius II Tomb
Pope Julius II Tomb

From 1519-1534 Michelangelo was in Florence again, in these years he designed the facade of the San Lorenzo church, the Laurentian Library, the tomb of Giuliano de'Medici (duke of Nemours, died 1516), and the tomb of Lorenzo de'Medici II (the duke of Urbino, died in 1519.) These tombs were special because they did not have the regular pictures of Christian symbols like most tombs had in that day. Instead of making the tombs he made show the Virgin Mary, Christ, the Apostles and the Virtues like the normal tombs, his tombs displayed humanity. His statues were showing crying out and suffering in despair, he did this too renounce the Christian traditions,and to allow them to actually show reality in their works of art.
In 1534 Michelangelo left Florence never to return again, this decision was probably influenced by his very hostile relationship with the Duke Alessandro de Medici, nevertheless Michelangelo never again returned.

When Michelanelo returned to Rome, shortly before Pope Clement VII died, he assinged Michelangelo to return yet again to the Sistine Chapel, and paint yet another fresco but this time of the Last Judgement. This fresco was to be placed behind the altar and in April of 1535 the scafolding was set up. The Last Judgement fresco was the largest fresco ever painted in the Renaissance. This fresco depicts Judgement Day, and Christ is making the famous seperations. The saved are ascending on the left side of the painting, and the damned are descending to a Dantesque hell on the right side. He finished this fresco in 1541.


The Damned
The Damned

Dantesque Hell
Dantesque Hell

The Judgement Day Fresco
The Judgement Day Fresco

Three years before finishing the Judgement Day in 1538 when he was 61, Michelangleo met a woman who was 46 named Vittoria Colonna. Between them a strong friendship grew, some might have even called it pure love. Their relationship lasted from 1538-1547 the day Vittoria died. This woman became such a part in Michelangelo's life that he even wrote poems about her, out of this collection came some of his greatest lyrical poems, she was a deep inspiration for him. She took him to a state of pure bliss for he was deep with admiration of this woman who was superior in his mind.

Michelangelo's greatest achivement as an architect was his work on St. Peter's Basilica in 1546. For this project his position was cheif architect. The bulding was being built on account of Donato Bramante's plan. Although ultimately Michelangelo became responsible for the altar end of the buildings exterior, and for the most important part, the dome. This was by far the biggest task he had been handed in the architectual field. It was also very difficult because Michelangelo was now in his seventies, however he still accepted the mighty responsibility.
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In Michelangelo's final days he prefered to be alone, since he could no longer sleep the quiet of night was his friend. Night was sthe best time for him. Since all his friends had died and he had no family that he knew about, the days went on and on with him cooped up in his home. At first he beleived that God had given him the talent of art as a great gift, but now that he saw where art had led him, he considered the gift was just pure torture. These were the words he used to describe the feelings he had during his final days.
"I live alone and miserable, trapped as marrow under the bark of the tree. My voice is like a wasp caught in a bag of skin and bones. My teeth shake and rattle like the keys of a musical instrument. My face is a scarecrow. My ears never cease to buzz. In one of them, a spider weaves its web, in the other one, a cricket sings all night long. My rattling catarrh won't let me sleep. This is the state where art has led me, after granting me glory. Poor, old, beaten, I will be reduced to nothing, if death does not come swiftly to my rescue. Pains have quartered me, torn me, broken me and death is the only inn awaiting me." Michelangelo died in Februrary 18th 1564 at the age of 89 which was extremely old for people back then. He died from a "slow fever." His body was placed in a sarcophagus that was then placed in the church of Santi Apostoli. Soon after the burial his nephew Lionardo Buonarroti arrived in Rome and took the possesions and the corpse of his uncle. When Lionardo returned to Florence the "divine artist" and his possesions were taken to Santa Corce where Michelangelo had originally wanted to be buried.

Michelangelo payed a great price for his gift, but he also gave the artists of the Renaissance the gift to really express themselves through art, and to let their mind loose. As he always said, "A man paints with his brain, not with his hands."

Sorces:
Renaissance Volume 7 Publisher: Grolier
http://www.michelangelo.com/buon/bio-index2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelangelo

More artists from the Renaissance:
Bosch
Da Vinci
Titan
Botticelli
An architect from the Renaissance:
Brunelleschi
Great websites to visit with more about Michelangelo:
http://www.yesnet.yk.ca/schools/projects/renaissance/michelangelo.html
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03059b.htm
http://www.michelangelobuonarroti.org/